nr. 28 - 10 October 2014

01 Edito

Start of the new academic year

The start of a new academic year is always a festive event. Not only for the many new students who look forward, with slight trepidation, to venturing their first steps into their new university environment. Also for many researchers, the 1st of October marks the start of a new phase in their (academic) careers.

With the first working days of the new academic year behind them, the newly appointed PhD fellows and postdoctoral fellows of the FWO have entered a new world - a world full of discoveries and opportunities. The start of a discovery journey, at the end of which they will have pushed the boundaries of our current knowledge, thereby laying the foundation for further research and groundbreaking innovation.


This group of young motivated scientists represents an essential link in the (Flemish) innovation chain. In fact, fundamental research, which is the raison d'être of the FWO, provides the basis for subsequent applied and targeted research.

Sadly, the start of this new academic year is overshadowed by the announced savings and budget cuts.


No one can deny that these are difficult economic times, as the Western world continues to struggle with the aftermath of the banking and economic crisis that started in 2008 and from which the economy is only just recovering. Governments all over Europe find it increasingly difficult to achieve balanced budgets. Cost savings and rationalisation to improve efficiency are the logical consequence.


As has already been repeatedly pointed out, investing in fundamental research is synonymous with investing in the future of a prosperous Flanders. Moreover, the FWO has long embraced the principle that public investments must be made as efficiently as possible and should produce a multiplier effect wherever possible.

That is also the reason why, in the past years, the FWO has kept overhead as low as possible (± 3%) and focused heavily on computerisation, allowing maximum results to be achieved with minimum resources. The multiplier effect of the FWO's excellence policy has enabled Flemish research groups to perform outstandingly in European research competitions. Time and again they succeed in landing European projects and prestigious research grants from the European Research Council (ERC). The FWO encourages and optimally supports Flemish researchers to compete for this European funding.


There is no doubt that the coming months will be tough budget-wise. The FWO is, however, convinced that investing in fundamental research is a good investment that should allow a return to structured economic growth based on strong foundations and well-educated young people.

02 In the spotlight

Colloquium - The researcher's living environment

The issue of 'publication pressure' continues to be a hotly debated topic in scientific circles. In the press, too, there is an increasing number of reports of mostly young researchers who complain about the pressure on researchers in general and the publication pressure in particular. The FWO wishes to address this issue in detail at a colloquium that will be held on 9 December 2014 at the Palace of Academies. A number of prominent policymakers such as Rik Torfs, FWO president and rector of KU Leuven, and Koenraad Debackere, spokesperson of ECOOM, will present their views on this matter. This will be followed by a panel discussion with both researchers and policymakers, under the expert supervision of moderator Jan Van Pelt. Registration is free but mandatory.

» The full programme can be viewed on our website

FWO Excellene Prizes

The prestigious FWO Excellence Prizes are awarded in recognition of the scientific career of eminent Flemish researchers. These prizes, worth €100,000, are awarded every five years to researchers in Exact Sciences, Applied Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, Fundamental Biomedical Sciences, and Clinical Biomedical Sciences. The deadline for the FWO Excellence Prizes is 3 November 2014.

» The regulations and the application form can be found on the website

Exhibition 60 years of CERN

2014 is a special year for CERN: The European Organization for Nuclear Research in fact celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. After the Second World War, in 1952, first the provisional Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) was founded by 12 European countries, including Belgium. This council was tasked to establish the research centre, and the convention establishing the new research centre was ratified on 29 September 1954.


To celebrate its 60th anniversary in style, CERN has put together a varied and exciting programme, including lectures, guided visits and demonstrations. A CERN travelling exhibition will visit all member states later this year: Belgium has the honour of closing the tour in December. On the occasion of the official inauguration of this exhibition, an academic session will be held, with the support the FWO, on 16 December 2014, in attendance of Her Majesty Queen Mathilde.


FWO intensively supports CERN's scientific research both through the regular fellowship and project programmes and through the Big Science programme. With this specific programme, FWO provides researchers and research projects with extra support to enable them to carry out their research at major international research facilities, with the membership fees being paid by the Belgian federal or Flemish government. This enables Flemish researchers to carry out fundamental research at major infrastructures such as CERN. CERN's highly international user community make it a unique meeting point for researchers looking to collaborate with each other. Access to top-level scientific equipment is not only a catalyst for scientific research in Flanders, but also has a considerable impact on the business community.

The Day of Science 2014

A new edition of The Day of Science, the leading scientific event in Flanders and Brussels, will be held on Sunday 23 November 2014. Some 100 universities, colleges, businesses, museums, hands-on centres, observatories, research institutions, etc. will open their doors to the public. Visitors will explore interactively the significant impact of scientific research and technological innovation on our daily life. 

03 news

Grijze Cellen 2014

Two further editions of our Grey Cells sessions are scheduled for this autumn. On Monday 13 October 2014, a debate will be held on the future of agriculture with Olivier De Schutter (ex-UN special rapporteur on the right to food and winner of the Francqui Prize 2013) and Rudy Rabbinge (university professor emeritus in sustainable development and food security at Wageningen University).

On Monday 24 November 2014, scientific journalist Jop de Vrieze will talk with Bart Lambrecht (VIB and UGent, winner of the Francqui Prize 2014) and Herman Goossens (UAntwerpen) about the role and need of bacteria in our body and the growing danger of resistance to antibiotics. Organised in collaboration with deBuren and Eos, these Grey Cells sessions take place at the Handelsbeurs in Ghent.

BiR&D Multi-Disciplinary PhD Thesis 2015

The Belgian Industrial Research and Development Board (BiR&D) attaches great importance to industrial valorisation and societal relevance. With the patronage of BiR&D, the FWO and the FRS-FNRS annually awards the BiR&D Multi-Disciplinary PhD Thesis Award, in recognition of a PhD thesis that presents an original and multidisciplinary contribution with potential industrial valorisation and societal relevance. In 2015 two prizes, each worth €10,000, will be awarded, one in the domain of "Life & Health Sciences" and one in the domain of "Science & Technology". The submission deadline for applications is 1 November 2014.

» The regulations and the application form can be found on the FWO website

Gustave Boël – Sofina Fellowships for India & China – call 2015

The King Baudouin Foundation attaches great importance to encouraging the international mobility of researchers. Through the patronage of the King Baudouin Foundation, young researchers can apply for a Gustave Boël – Sofina Fellowship to go to China or India for a research or training stay of either 6 months or 12 months. The deadline for the Gustave Boël – Sofina Fellowships 2015 is 3 November 2014.

» The regulations and the application form can be found at the FWO website

04 International news

FWO PhD fellow wins the ESCoP Early Career Publication Award

Kobe Desender, FWO PhD fellow active within the Cognitive Psychology (COPS) research group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, has won the annual Early Career Publication Award of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology(ESCoP). The publication entitled “Feeling the conflict. The crucial role of conflict experience in adaptation”, was written under the supervision of Prof. Eva Van den Bussche (VUB) and Dr. Filip Van Opstal (ULB), and published this year in the international magazine Psychological Science. Kobe's paper was selected as the winner from 9 submissions, and earned him a prize of €1,000.

Herman Terryn is awarded the European Corrosion Medal for corrosion research

Professor Herman Terryn of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is awarded the European Corrosion Medal. The Materials Science Professor receives the award for his outstanding contribution in understanding and preventing corrosion of metals. Professor Terryn is an expert in the field of sustainable materials. The award was presented at the Euro Corr conference in Pisa in September by the European Federation of Corrosion. Prof. Terryn was a member of an FWO-commission from 1997 to 2007 and also acts as spokesperson for a number of FWO projects.

FWO – thematic info sessions Horizon 2020

As part of the 2015 calls under the European framework programme for research and innovation "Horizon 2020", the FWO will, as NCP, organise a new series of thematic info sessions to prepare and inform researchers about the terms and conditions of the new calls.

We will kick off the series with an info session on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) on 7 November 2014. Special attention will be paid to the following two actions: Innovative Training Networks (ITN) and Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE). At this info session, EC representatives will present the terms and conditions of the calls and you will also receive tips from an expert evaluator and researchers who were recently awarded an MSCA project. More information can be found here.


Next info sessions:


  • ERC info session on the 2015 calls for ERC Starting, Consolidator and Proof of Concept Grants: Thursday 27 November 2014 (morning), Palace of Academies, Brussels.
  • Info session on Societal Challenge 6: Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective Societies:Thursday 27 November 2014 (afternoon), Palace of Academies, Brussels.

05 Across the borders

European Research Area Networks

A call is open for research on aids and HIV (HIVERA). A call will soon be launched for marine biotechnology (ERA-MarineBiotech). See /nl/mandaten-financiering/europese-programmas/era-net/oproepen/ .


Evaluations are ongoing for E-Rare (rare diseases), Nanomed (nanomedicine), Neuron (neurology), M-ERA.NET (materials), TRANSCAN (cancer research) and Rus Plus (research with Russia).

Cooperation with Austria

To promote collaboration between Flanders and Austria, last year the FWO signed a Lead Agency Agreement with the Austrian FWF (The Austrian Science Fund), for which a first call for research proposals will be published in the beginning of November. Flemish and Austrian research partners can apply for joint research projects in all domains, including staff grants and bench fees. Under this Lead Agency either FWO or FWF will act as 'lead agent' depending on where the most funds are applied for. The lead agent is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the evaluation and for the decision to accept the proposal. Further details about the call will be available on the FWO-website in November.

Open calls Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI)

Evaluations are ongoing for the following initiatives:

  • JPI AMR (antimicrobial resistance)
  • JPI HDHL (Healthy Diet for Healthy Life), theme Biomarkers
  • JPND (neurodegenerative diseases)

07 Numbers and figures

Results applications Fellowships

On June 25th the FWO Board of Trustees awarded new fellowships.  On 1 October 2014, 210 new PhD fellows will enter the research environment with an FWO grant, bringing the total number of PhD fellows to 879. At the same time, 178 new postdoctoral researchers and 13 Pegasus Marie Curie Short fellowships will enter into service, bringing the total number of postdoctoral fellows to 877. In addition, 9 new fundamental clinical researchers will be starting on the same date.


On 1 October 2014, the FWO will enable a total of 1778 researchers to carry out fully independent fundamental research through a personal fellowship.

» Click here for all the results

FWO Scientific prizes

BiRD Multidisciplinary PhD Award: €10,000

Daan Witters (KU Leuven)


Gustave Boël - Sofina Fellowships: long stays in India or China

Matthieu Burnay (KU Leuven)

Sarah Melsens (VUB)

Ema Estevens (VUB)


IBL Prizes for Clinical Research: €75,000

Dirk Timmerman (KU Leuven)


The Boston Consulting Group Best Paper Award: €5,000

Vincent Ginis (VUB)


Umicore Award for Graduate Dissertations: €2,500

David Dupont (KU Leuven)

Thomas Dobbelaere (UGent)

06 Calendar

Open calls

  • 30/06/2014: Cooperation with Argentina
  • 01/07/2014: Bilateral cooperation with Ecuador
  • 14/07/2014: Cooperation with South-Korea
  • 15/07/2014: Research Project "Kinderarmoede"
  • 15/07/2014: Research Project "Rode Kruis Vlaanderen"
  • 10/09/2014: Cooperation with Japan